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#02-23-2013 - ComFish News Roundup
State seeks more money for Fairbanks hatchery
Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013 12:00 am
Matt Buxton
JUNEAU — “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
Those were the words of Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, during a presentation earlier this month on the state’s request for more than $4 million to pay for ongoing costs related to the new Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery in Fairbanks....

AP&T analysis suggests SEAPA buyout option
February 21, 2013
An analysis of the financial status of the Southeast Alaska Power Agency by Alaska Power & Telephone is estimating what the member utilities it serves are valued at – and makes a conclusion that the member municipalities of Wrangell, Petersburg and Ketchikan should take over ownership of the Tyee Lake and Swan Lake power plants. The analysis, which was performed in-house by AP&T CEO Robert Grimm, states that SEAPA currently holds $16 million in total debt, with a liquidation debt of $15 million – the amount the communities would have to pay to remove themselves from agency control. The Tyee and Swan plants are a part of the analysis and are estimated to be worth $8.018 million and $6.981 million respectively, for a combined value of $15 million. The transmission lines between the three communities, which totals 187 miles of cable, is estimated to be worth $3.75 million. In order to buy out of SEAPA ownership of the properties the analysis suggests that if the communities were to purchase the facilities, a recommended annual payment of $463,712 would be split between Wrangell and Petersburg and would amortize in just over 30 years according to Grimm. “In order to accomplish this, the communities would most likely need to generate a General Obligation or Municipal bond,” Grimm added. Grimm also goes on to state that.....

OPINION: Bristol Bay fishermen raise bar on quality
February 22nd 3:07 pm | Izetta Chambers
Having grown up in a fishing family in Bristol Bay, I have watched and taken part in the slow and sometimes painful journey to improve salmon quality.
When I was little, I remember how fishermen used pews - essentially pointed stakes - to stab the fish in the head or belly and fling them into a delivery truck. It was an irreverent way to treat food. Fortunately, the practice stopped in the late 70s or early 80s. In those days, nobody used ice or refrigerated seawater. Bleeding the freshly caught salmon was unheard of. But I remember people on the Naknek beach being proud to deliver their fish.....

Alaska's Begich Ties Immigration Vote to Access to Cheap Labor for Canneries
By Jerry Kammer, February 22, 2013
Last year the State Department announced its intention to prohibit foreign students who come to the United States with the Summer Work Travel program to be employed in the Alaska seafood-processing industry. But the powerful industry quickly brought in some heavy political guns, especially Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who prevailed upon State to postpone the ban for the 2012 season. Now National Journal is reporting that Begich may tie his vote on "comprehensive immigration reform" legislation to more concessions from State and the Obama administration. Begich wants Alaskan canneries to have access to the large supply of cheap foreign labor that enters the United States with J-1 visas provided by the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program. As National Journal reported, Begich "sees opportunities to turn at least one of the looming national issues to his benefit." The article includes this quote from Begich: "With regards to...

Coast Guard: Shell Arctic drilling rig findings turned over to Justice Dept.
Published: February 22, 2013 Updated 16 hours ago
By Sean Cockerham — Anchorage Daily News
WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard has found serious safety and environmental violations on a Shell drilling rig used in the Arctic waters off Alaska, another blow to the company’s controversial bid to harvest oil in the petroleum-rich but sensitive region. The Coast Guard said Friday that it has turned over the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice, which had no comment. The Coast Guard found 16 violations on the Noble Discoverer, one of Shell’s two drilling rigs for Alaska’s Arctic waters. The company’s other....

Alaska Marine Highway to Mat-Su on free ferry: Thanks but no thanks
Suzanna Caldwell
February 22, 2013
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough's unused $78 million Susitna Ferry won't have a home with the Alaska Marine Highway System anytime soon. An analysis by the Alaska Marine Highway System released Friday concludes that due to a lack of docking facilities and the high cost of subsidizing the ferry, the Susitna does “not match well” with the needs of the state ferry system.....

Posted on Saturday, 02.23.13
Alaskan fleets are readying for biggest summer in years
Major cruise lines and small-ship operators are beefing up their Alaska offerings this summer, giving vacationers more choices and promising to boost the passenger count above one million for the first time in four years. Eleven major lines will be making cruises in the region in 2013, along with a number of small-ship operators. Holland America and Princess each will have seven ships sailing in the waters of the 49th state. Norwegian Cruise Line is bringing a third ship to the region, Oceania is returning to Alaska after a year’s absence, Celebrity is bringing its......

Record 300,000 salmon returned to Klamath in '12
The Klamath River saw a record fall Chinook salmon run of 302,108 adults, while the Sacramento River hosted a run of 283,871 adult salmon in the fall of 2012.....

Struggling Herring Make a Tiny Appearance
Audio Report on Feb 22, 2013 by Shannon Service from KQED
If you are a seafood lover, you are no doubt aware when the salmon or crab season begins. But late February marks the end of herring season. Herring are one of those small silver fish unceremoniously referred to as “bait fish.” Small fish like herring are the critical base of the marine food chain and, without them, there would be no bigger fish. Not that long ago California’s herring population came perilously close to collapse. While their numbers are increasing, herring in the Bay are still struggling to return to their once prolific numbers.....

6 tanks at Hanford nuclear site in Wash. leaking
Updated 10:52 PM ET
YAKIMA, WASH. Six underground tanks that hold a brew of radioactive and toxic waste at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site are leaking, federal and state officials said Friday, prompting calls for an investigation from a key senator. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the leaking material poses no immediate risk to public safety or the environment because it would take a while — perhaps years — to reach groundwater. But the leaking tanks raise new concerns about delays for emptying them and strike another blow to federal efforts to clean up south-central Washington's....